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Friday, 3 November 1911

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) (Honorary Minister) . - This is the second time the Leader of the Opposition has addressed himself to this proposition, and his heated manner showed that he is extremely anxious that it should be deleted.

Senator Vardon - Hear, hear ! I should think so.

Senator FINDLEY -- Senator Vardon,like Senator Millen, is not in love with the Bill ; and probably those honorable senators would be better pleased if it had not been introduced.

Senator Millen - There has been no attack from this side on your enrolment provisions.

Senator FINDLEY - Although the honorable senator did not condemn the proposal for compulsory enrolment, he did not say one word in favour of it. There were other honorable senators sitting in opposition who condemned the principle of compulsory enrolment. One would think, from the heat displayed, that this provision was an entirely new one in Federal legislation. As a matter of fact, there are similar provisions in three or four Acts which stand upon the statute-book to-day. I never heard any of the honorable' senators who are so strong in their opposition to this proposed new section object to those provisions in the other Acts.

Senator Walker - In every case I have objected.

Senator FINDLEY -- As a matter of fact, Senator Keating defended the provision in the Customs Act. If it be a good principle in respect to Customs, why should it be harmful in respect to the electoral law? No glaring case of injustice has been brought to light regarding the administration of similar provisions.

Senator Lynch - There is a vast difference in the nature of the cases.

Senator FINDLEY - That is the reason why I find it difficult to understand such strenuous opposition being aroused in this instance. It is a trivial matter, whereas, in other cases, criminal charges might be lodged.

Senator Rae - This is manufacturing criminals.

Senator FINDLEY - I am sorry that Senator Rae should make such a statement. I do not think that he seriously believes that the present Government would willingly introduce a provision to manufacture criminals. All "that the proposed new section means is that, unless a man or woman against whom a. charge of contravening the regulations is made is not present at the Court when the case is heard, he or she will be adjudged guilty in the absence of evidence to the contrary. Where is the seriousness of the obligation that is thereby imposed on electors?

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Cameron. - Does the Minister really say that that is a legitimate position in which to put a. man?

Senator FINDLEY - 'The Government believe absolutely that this provision will work in the best interests of the citizens of Australia, will remove many of the difficulties inseparable from the compilation of electoral rolls, will save expense, and prevent worry and loss of time.

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